Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)

This is by far one of my favourite film of all time. Buñuel has always been a one of a kind director contributing with Salvador Dali on the surrealism with his Un chien andalou and L’Âge d’or, two masterpieces of moviemaking and dreamlike sequences that every self-respected cinephile should have seen. The symbolism of these instinctive films as so many levels of understanding and such depth that a simple essay on them isn’t enough to crack their codes.

Let’s get back to Le charme discrèt de la bourgeoisie made almost fifty years after Buñuel’s first films! What strikes you the most is how the surrealism that characterized his first films is still omnipresent but even more mastered than ever. Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie is the culmination of Buñuel’s work : the perfect surrealism film. The uses of symbolism and camera techniques is really subtle and Buñuel doesn’t need to slice the eye of a woman or get a cow in the bed of two lovers. The many situations of Le charme... are already overly enough and the closer to realism it gets the better it is. The dreamlike sequences that always feel like if you were in reality but finally you weren’t at all embarks the viewer on a trip with the bourgeois that are trying to get diner together and enjoy a nice evening.

This series of events is packed with humorous dialogues and situations. Just like Woody Allen, another admirer of Buñuel’s work, I feel that this kind of hybrid film where humour and reflection means entertainment and Cinema. It is a smart film where subtlety uncovers the hypocrisy, the fears, and the vices of the bourgeois characters populating the film. The uniqueness unity of Le charme... brings you in common places and then just when the viewer thinks he knows how the situation will turn out Buñuel gets a bunny out of his hat. This master has many tricks in his bag. You have to see the film to fully understand the reach of the whole thing.

In 1972, there were many big successes: The Godfather, Cabaret, Deliverance, What’s Up Doc?, The Getaway, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were to Afraid to Ask), but in my opinion Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie along with Aguirre: The Wrath of God was the greatest film of that year. Unfortunately other films mentioned earlier will always make shadows on Buñuel’s greatest achievement.


  1. I don't know why but I still haven't got around to seeing this one yet. Thanks for reminding me about it... and you putting it alongside Aguirre makes me want to find this now sooner rather than later.

  2. You should watch this one Bonjour Tristesse as with your tastes in films I think you'll like it! Thanks for commenting!

  3. This is one of my all-time favorites, one of the first films that really turned me on to how amazing French film is. And it's also the very first Buñuel film I watched (he's my 2nd favorite director ever). I've since found two other Buñuel films that I enjoy more- The Phantom of Liberty and The Exterminating Angel- but that has a lot more to do with how much I REALLY enjoy those two.

    Regarding early Buñuel surrealism vs. late Buñuel surrealism, I think of it as the difference between visual surrealism (the dead donkeys, the ants on the hand, the sliced eye) and conceptual surrealism (wealthy people who can't find a meal or leave a room, disjointed animals in places they don't belong).

  4. I loved Le fantôme de la liberté but I still haven't seen The Exterminating Angel. It will be on my list of films to watch!

    You've summed up really well Bunuel's evolution in surrealism! The latter one is probably the most efficient and the most unsettling too!


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